Read and enjoyed March 08, 2022

I haven’t read much from this author and wasn’t sure how I felt about his writing. This book turned out to be an excellent read and now I’ve added Robert Whitlow to my favorites list of authors.

I’m also happy to have stayed with my decision to read to the end. My initial reluctance was due to the genre. Sometimes I feel like I’ve read more WWII novels than I can handle. I was back to experiencing a spark of interest and it paid off.

This one had unique elements to draw the reader in and that was a game changer. His story treatment was a mixture of old and new with a twist. I loved his characters too, except for the ones he wanted us to hate.

I loved this read.

The whole book was a surprise and I gave it five stars.

The Witnesses 

Young lawyer Parker House is on the rise—until his grandfather’s mysterious past puts both of their lives in danger.

Parker House’s secret inheritance is either his greatest blessing . . . or his deadliest curse. The fresh-faced North Carolina attorney shares his German grandfather’s uncanny ability to see future events in his mind’s eye—a gift that has haunted 82-year-old Frank House through decades of trying to erase a murderous wartime past.

While Parker navigates the intrigue and politics of small-town courtroom law, Frank is forced to face his darkest regrets. Then, a big career break for Parker collides with a new love he longs to nurture and the nightmares his grandfather can no longer escape. Sudden peril threatens to shatter not only Parker’s legal prospects but also his life and the lives of those dearest to him.

Two witnesses, two paths, an uncertain future.

Current enjoyable read February 26, 2022

It’s a collection. Four books.

I’ve finished the first one and I have to say it was full of tension. Which is a good thing. It makes for a gripping story, one that’s not easy to put down.

Now I’m on to the second book and it is off to a roaring start, especially when it comes to drama.

Past hurts color our reactions in triggering situations when, inevitably, all the old memories come flooding back. For Javier, everything he does is met with bad attitude, the one caused by his still weeping wounds. And now, the perpetrator is standing right in front of him, seemingly oblivious to the root cause of his rude behavior.

This leaves me dying to know what happened, and did she betray him the way he obviously thinks she did.

It’s Saturday, between loads of laundry I aim to find out.

Romance from the Heart Boxed Set by Lee Tobin McClain

The Quintana siblings are too busy saving their struggling family restaurant to fall in love… Four heartwarming, small-town Western stories of intense attraction, devastating secrets, and the twisty path to the altar, from the USA Today bestselling author of thirty Christian inspirational romances.

Sheltered Hearts: A jilted bride gets stranded in a snowstorm with a handsome restaurant cook who’s not what he seems to be.

Secrets of the Heart: When a single mom returns to her hometown to manage the farm-to-table remake of a struggling Mexican restaurant, she must work closely with the handsome ex who broke her high-school heart.

Wise at Heart: He’s an old friend. She’s his nanny. There’s a spark. It would all be so romantic… if she weren’t keeping such a terrible secret.

Joy of My Heart: Will the overprotective Quintana brothers stand by while their little sister falls in love with a mysterious older man?

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Happy Reading y’all

I haven’t found any good bargain suggestions yet today but I will keep looking.

Free and bargain books December 30, 2021

Two suggestions; a Romance with deadly secrets from BookBub and a Mystery from 1531 Entertainment. I’ve read and enjoyed both of these books.

Almost Forever (Hanover Falls Series Book 1)

Unearthing a lost memory may cause her to lose everything
she holds dear… but could it also set her free?

Bryn Hennesey, a volunteer at the Grove Street Homeless Shelter, was there the night the shelter burned to the ground and five heroic firefighters died at the scene. Among them was Bryn’s husband, Adam. Like the rest of the surviving spouses, she must find a way to begin again. But she must do so living with a horrible secret.

Garrett Edmonds’s wife, Molly, was the only female firefighter to perish in the blaze. As her husband, it was Garrett’s job to protect the woman he loved… How can he go on in the face of such unbearable loss and guilt?

And what started the fire that destroyed the dreams and futures of so many? Investigators are stumped. But someone knows the answer.

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Truth Stained Lies (Moonlighters Series Book 1) 

Cathy Cramer is a former lawyer and investigative blogger who writes commentary on high-profile homicides. When she finds a threatening note warning her that she’s about to experience the same kind of judgment and speculation that she dishes out in her blog, Cathy writes it off as mischief . . . until her brother’s wife is murdered and all the “facts” point to him. The killer has staged the crime to make the truth too far-fetched to believe. Working to solve the murder and clear her brother’s name, Cathy and her two sisters, Holly and Juliet, moonlight as part-time private investigators. Juliet, a stay-at-home mom of two boys, and Holly, a scattered ne’er-do-well who drives a taxi, put aside their fear to hunt down the real killer.

Stakes rise when their brother’s grieving five-year-old son is kidnapped. As police focus on the wrong set of clues, the three sisters and their battered detective friend are the only hope for solving this bizarre crime, saving the child, and freeing their brother.

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My current read: I’m liking it, but sadly, it falls short of loving-it. The last few reads have been the same. Some less liked than others. Three in a row were hopped, skipped and jumped, quickly to the end. Some were given three stars, mainly because the same thoughts, discussions, and deliberations, kept happening over and over. One book was filled with scenarios that added nothing significant to the storyline.

So back to the current read; So far I’m reading all of it, which is a good sign.

Christmas Mercies: A Christian Holiday Romance Novel (Little River Village Christmas Book 1)

For Janice Michaels, the bane of her career as a music teacher is preparing students for the annual winter holiday program. Christmas has brought nothing but grief and loneliness for the past decade, after she lost her beloved husband to a fatal car accident. Hearing holiday music day after day during the first few months of the school year is like constantly ripping the scab off an unhealed wound.

Determined to keep her husband in her heart, she has kept a fortress around it, allowing only one woman in as a true friend, and avoiding anything more than a passing acquaintance with any man.

Until Timothy Fielding, the maintenance man at the apartment complex where she lives, comes along. He happens to love the Christmas season. When circumstances – and Janice’s best friend, Kayla – draw them together, he struggles to keep his growing feelings for Janice at bay. He has his own secret past that he’s sure would repel any woman, once she found out about it.

But his desire for love and companionship win out, and he does his best to knock down the walls around Janice’s heart. But even when she finally relents and agrees to spend more time with him, she continues to resist opening her heart back up to Christmas.

Because the death of her husband is only the beginning of the tragedy surrounding the day.

In the meantime, Lucille Masterson, the great-grandmother of Janice’s star pupil, makes a shocking discovery that almost causes her to ruin Christmas for her family. Again. But then she realizes that if she would face her fear, she could finally release the burden she’s been carrying for the past ten years. What she doesn’t know is that it would release a horrible burden for the very person she’s afraid to face…

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This book is still free.

Happy Reading y’all

C-PTSD conversation December 12, 2021

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

Trigger alert. Don’t read this if you are easily triggered or distressed with abuse stories. For sure don’t read this if my story distresses you. (family, friends.) I do promise there will be no explicit details. Generalities are bad enough.

Why now? you ask… It’s time.

If you are a praying person, I would appreciate your prayers. This is going to cost me, big time. It has to happen sometime and it feels like the time is now so I’ll carry on.

Why even do this?… It will be cathartic.

Advance warning – I do plan to end on a positive note. Something healing happened this week and I will share what that was.

Most of my life has been intentionally lived as if my past never happened. Parts of my adult life have been lived as a public figure, no one connected with me knew my background. It was all a secret.

There are two reasons for not speaking up sooner. One was that I had deeply repressed memories (still do) and wouldn’t admit to my suspicions without proof. My brother made me admit the abuse about 15 years ago when I was no longer a young woman.

The second reason (excuse) was tied up in protecting the reputation of the abuser. My outlook on that aspect has changed and protecting him no longer seems as important. I guess I was reluctant for family reasons too. None of that seems as important now either..

The reason for the abuse and the form it took is complex. I’m fairly certain there was abuse in Dad’s background which would explain why his alcoholism was firmly established by mid teens. It would also explain the sex addiction which probably started in early to mid teens as well.

An unplanned pregnancy (me) with unwanted responsibilities and lifestyle changes added rage to the mix.

Double addictions along with rage brought variety to the abuse. Selfish, immature, vindictive traits, didn’t help either.

So, all of that to say the abuse started early and took different forms depending on mood and availability. As the years went by access became more readily available. Mom had a job and also spent significant time in hospital fighting cancer. The last two years with him were the worst.

Dad was an extrovert and there were always visitors on the property. He was not adverse to sharing with his friends. As the abuse progressed I was groomed and trafficked. Money was a big draw. He was always in need of another bottle of whiskey. He was proud of his grooming.

My brothers and I were rescued as I turned twelve. Mom had to spend another stint in hospital and we were sent to stay with my grandmother. She insisted.

The door in my mind was slammed shut on all of the repressed memories. The experiences endured were unpleasant and as a teen there was not a speck of me wanting to be sexually active with boys. I’m grateful.

There were little clues in some of my irrational responses and thought patterns back then that might have been a tip-off if I had been willing to examine them.

Over the years prayer has been a very important part of my healing journey. I keep asking God to heal the exposed broken places that I have no idea how to fix or move past. He has been healing me incrementally for years, and friends and family are noticing the difference.

The positive note to end this post is about one of those healing times.

One of the aspects of intimacy, the experts say, is the connection formed in that moment. Casual or serious makes no difference.

I know it’s true. The relationship changes once that bridge has been crossed. The connection with your first is probably the strongest. Dad was my first and there were many more after him.

The last while I have been allowing myself to relax and let memories resurface if they want to. Sometimes it’s been emotions, sometimes bits of memories. There has been a heavy sense of connection to Dad.

This week in answer to prayer that connection with him has been broken. It’s gone, for him and all the other men he allowed in my life. I felt the emotion drain out of me and now I feel nothing for him.

I’ve let go of anger, I’ve forgiven him, the connection has been broken, and now the secret has been revealed.

There will still be triggers, more healing needed, and more issues to be faced. In the aftermath there will be a price to pay for sharing this story. It’s part of the deal.

Despite all of that I’m celebrating, in a numb kind of way. The secret is out. Another hurdle in the healing journey has been crossed.

If you made it this far, thank you for listening.

The sun is peeking from behind the dark clouds.

Final notes on Love Like You`ve Never Been Hurt November 28, 2021

Chapter Six is about Loving-Kindness.

To catch the full impact of the chapter you need to read the book. My notes are never comprehensive, they are short quotes that capture the essence of a thought standing out to me. Something that grabs my heart.

Page 102

If you want to love like you`ve never been hurt, get rid of bitterness and start being kind.

Being kind means treating people with respect, apologizing sincerely, and stop criticizing. Doing this all the time.

Page 162

Forgiveness is important in loving but the other side of it is “I`m sorry.“

If you want to reconcile a relationship, you must be willing to say “I`m sorry.“

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This book has many good things to say to us, they are just not always on topic. That`s why skimming to the end for the sake of the topic seems like a good idea for now.

I`ll share a few of the relevant thoughts outlined on Page 226

Key Principles Designed to Help You Love.

  • Love never fails. Choose love over hurt.
  • It`s never wrong to love people who have messed up.
  • It`s unforgivable to not forgive.
  • We can begin to love others when we love ourselves.
  • We are called to be kind.
  • Instead of fanning the flames of discord become a peacemaker.

And a little more.

Page 228

Offenses are inevitable. No one is exempt.

Some of us look at opposition as a bad thing.

Opposition can cause you to face things and do things you could not have done, had you not had the opposition.

Bottom line.

Never give up.

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That is the end of this book.

As mentioned earlier, many helpful things were shared in this book and it has been a good read even though it strayed off topic a fair bit. It was written by a pastor with real life experiences not a psychologist so that explains why the perspective is different.

I enjoyed this exercise of sharing a non-fiction book with you.

There are still a number of unread books similar to this on my shelf and I`m planning to choose another one to continue on with this experiment.

It gives me the extra incentive needed to get with it and read instead of allowing them to sit and pile up.

My hope is that you will also find these books helpful as you travel on your personal healing journey.

P.S. as I read back over this post I`m reminded of a book I read years ago.

The flavor of this post is all about changes within us. This thought is reminding me of a book called Lord Change Me.

Really, in the end the only person we can change is ourselves. I know it sounds unfair but it is reality. Changes have to come from inside us, external pressures accomplish little most of the time. We cannot force someone else to want to change

Changing ourselves, especially in the areas of forgiving and loving, has a positive effect on the atmosphere of a relationship. Change begets change.

It pays to embrace change for ourselves.

Notes on Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt Nov 21, 2021

Last time we ended just before the topic… Changing the channel on our invasive words and thoughts.

Page 92:

There are a number of components and I will highlight a few that stand out to me. There is so much more to be said, reading the book would be helpful.

...how you can start: Change what you tell yourself. … Talk back to your inner critic.

The most important battles we fight, many times, happen internally.

The past can be healed in only one way: Forgive it. That is the one thing you can do for yourself that can change all of your tomorrows.

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Page 93 – 96

I’m going to deviate from the book here. The author is dealing with shame in this section and uses the example of the Prodigal Son in the Bible. He tells how the father, with love, received his son back home. Despite his “bad boy” lifestyle, wasting his inheritance, and returning home in disgrace.

The father is a picture of the way God loves us and receives us no matter what we’ve done or what has been done to us.

I’m deviating from the book, though, because I think it’s important for us to understand the difference between shame and guilt. The information I’m about to share I’ve seen expressed in many places over the years, but for today’s purpose I found it laid out on verywellmind.com under living with BPD.

I’m paraphrasing here for space sake.

Guilt is the feeling you have related to things you have done. With guilt you can take steps to make things right and move on.

Shame is the feeling you have related to you are, or who you’ve been led to believe you are, your whole self not just an event. Shame it is not as easily dealt with because there is nothing you can do to make restitution. It’s about who you are, not something you’ve done.

There is an excellent ten minute podcast on their website discussing the shame we have been hiding and the link is posted below.

https://www.verywellmind.com/the-verywell-mind-podcast-5113058

The important take away from the podcast was this: there are two things shame cannot survive. One is exposure, tell someone. The second is empathy, tell someone who understands and is supportive.

It’s very important to find the right person to confide your secrets.

If shame is an issue for you, and it is for those of us who have survived an abusive life, this is highly helpful information.

So, back to the book. Check it out for the larger conversation.

I’m not sure what’s next but we will find out.

Notes on Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt Nov 20, 2021

Continuing on from where we left off last time. A few more relevant quotes.

Self condemnation: page 84

When we let lies overrule love, it affects those around us. We tend to take out our frustrations, lack of self-worth, shame or guilt on those we love. We cannot possibly love like we’ve never been hurt if we do not love ourselves.

another very important quote, same page:

If you struggle with shame, you may have trouble extending grace to others. If you struggle with finding self-worth, you may find it difficult to trust those around you.

Page 88:

We wear all sorts of things that keep us in bondage. Shame. Condemnation. Brokenness. Fear. Anxiety. Anger. Unforgiveness.

We are living in a mental cage. Page 89

Imprisoned with painful memories, with failures from the past, with self-sabotaging thoughts, with fear of an uncertain future.

Page 90:

When you start believing the lies about who you are, you begin to destroy your destiny.

How to change the channel?

That will be tomorrow’s topic.

These quotes are not the whole story, we need to read the book to see the full picture.

Well, I’m reading the book. I’m sure you will find it helpful too.

Notes on Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt Nov 18, 2021

This experience, reading through this book, has been beneficial.

Right off the hop, we have the first quote and there’s no disputing the truth of it.

Page 71: Forgiveness holds the key to freedom, to healing, to wholeness.

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Page 75: – Forgiveness does not mean you forget what happened.

Page 76: – Forgiveness does not release the offender from consequences.

Page 77: – Forgiveness does not always mean reconciliation.

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Page 79: Forgiveness is a decision. Choose to forgive.

Practical steps to allow forgiveness to happen.

Open your heart. Extend compassion. But most importantly…

Release the person from the prison you put them in inside your heart.

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The final quote is a useful admonition. Bottom of Page 79

Do not run away from forgiveness. Run to forgiveness. It is a great friend. If you choose to forgive, your heart will heal.

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I’ve noticed several common qualities in those of us struggling to forgive.

We build protective walls. Massive protective walls.

We are imprisoned with our words. (I will never, I can’t…)

We imprison our offenders in our hearts. As long as they dwell locked up inside of us we can never forgive.

Letting them out of our prison doesn’t do anything to free them but it surely does something to free us.

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Enjoy the book.

Grasp and enjoy freedom.